|Cops Probe Possible Link to Leila Fowler Murder|
|By CHRISTINA NG (@ChristinaNg27)||May 1, 2013, 2:54 PM|
California police are investigating whether an attempted kidnapping near where 8-year-old Leila Fowler was stabbed to death could be connected to her case, but police are calling it "a shot in the dark."
Authorities have been searching for Leila's killer around the clock since she was brutally stabbed in her Valley Springs, Calif., home on Saturday. They have not identified a suspect or motive.
They are now looking at whether a foiled kidnapping in Placerville, Calif., could be linked to her case. Placerville is about 50 miles north of Valley Springs.
At about 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Placerville police received a 911 call from someone saying a man was trying to kidnap a 15-month-old baby. The caller said that the child's mother was struggling with the suspect, according to police.
Police arrived at the scene within three minutes, found that the man was still in the apartment and apprehended him.
The mother told police that the man had followed her into her apartment from outside uninvited.
"The male subject focused his attention on a 15-month-old child then forcibly took the child from its mother and held the child to the ground," Placerville police said in a news release. "After a struggle, the mother was able to reclaim the child."
The mother put the baby in a bedroom where other children and an adult were hiding. She closed the door and fought with the suspect, keeping him out of the room until police arrived.
The suspect, identified as Jason Wayrynen, 42, was charged with kidnapping and burglary. He is being held at the El Dorado County Jail.
"There's no confirmed nexus between the two cases," Placerville Police Capt. Mike Scott told ABCNews.com of the attempted kidnapping and the Leila Fowler case.
"It's a shot in the dark in that we collected our suspect's DNA," Scott said. "The similarities are that an unknown intruder enters a residence with the intent commit harm to a child. That's the only nexus. We have nothing else on that."
Hundreds of people wearing pink and purple, Leila's favorite colors, gathered for a vigil on Tuesday evening. Her family was also in attendance and spoke to the crowd.
"I'm not saying goodbye to Leila," her brother Justin Fowler said. "I'm saying see you later."
"I just want to thank the entire community and all of our family and friends for the overwhelming amount of support you've given my family," Leila's tearful mother Krystal Walters said. "It will never be forgotten."
Kalea Rigara, 8, was at the vigil and said she was Leila's best friend.
"Her smile, her personality -- she was beautiful," a tearful Rigara told ABC New's Sacramento affiliate KXTV. "I love her."
Leila and her 12-year-old brother were home alone in separate rooms on Saturday when the boy told police he found an intruder in the home, according to ABC News' Sacramento affiliate KXTV.
The 12-year-old called his parents, who alerted sheriff's deputies. The intruder fled and the boy found his sister with severe injuries, according to KXTV. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio confirmed to ABC News that Fowler had been stabbed, but declined to elaborate regarding her injuries.
"She was a beautiful little girl," her grandmother Robin Walters tearfully told ABCNews.com. "I just hope and pray they find him. Nobody should have to go through this."
Law enforcement agencies are searching for a suspect described as a 6-foot-tall man with a muscular build. He was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants. The suspect is considered "armed and dangerous," according to police.
Police have been searching Fowler's home in Valley Springs, Calif., a rural town 60 miles southeast of Sacramento, and the surrounding areas.
"We did collect some fingerprints during that search and we also collected what we believe to be DNA," Calaveras County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Macedo said at a news conference. "We're searching extensively into attics and storage sheds. It is a difficult area to search."
The area has a lot of empty homes and rocky areas.
Police said Leila's brother is not a suspect at this time, but they have been interviewing him.
"We are continuing to talk to him, which would be normal because he was the last person with the child," Macedo said.
Authorities are also asking for any information on anyone who may have left town unexpectedly after the crime or has unexplained injuries, according to an alert on the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office website.
Anyone with information is asked to contact a tip line at 209-754-6030.
Additional reporting by ABC News' Alyssa Newcomb.